Pac-12 working to get satellite, telco deals

By Josh Dubow

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Aug. 10 2012 3:16 p.m. MDT

SAN FRANCISCO — The Pac-12 said it is unlikely it will have distribution agreements in place for its new television networks with all four of the major satellite and telco providers in time for next week's launch.

Pac-12 Enterprises President Gary Stevenson said on a conference call Friday that the conference is working "day and night" to reach deals with DirecTV, Dish Network, Verizon and AT&T to add to agreements with cable operators in about 48 million homes.

"We're perfectionists, so we would like to have every distributor out there and that's our goal," Stevenson said. "If you take a look at our distribution launch compared with just about every other cable company that launched in history, that distribution with three of the five most powerful operators in the country is terrific."

The Pac-12 announced distribution deals with Comcast, Time Warner, Cox and Bright House cable systems last summer when it revealed plans for the networks. The conference has also reached deals in recent weeks with many smaller cable operators in advance of its launch next Wednesday.

But reaching deals with the major satellite and telco providers would help the conference deliver its programming all over the country.

"There's nothing that I've heard that is discouraging from any of them," Stevenson said. "We only have 50 percent of the vote. I don't expect all of them will be on at launch. I do believe that as we talk about our content over time, our fans that are customers of those distributors will get what they want."

The Pac-12 is launching one national sports network as well as six regional ones that each focus on two of the conference's 12 schools. While much of the programming, especially football and men's basketball, will air on all the networks, each of the regionals will also have about 50 lower-profile sports from the two schools in its coverage area.

The networks will be on basic cable in home markets, on digital cable in cities like Sacramento and mostly on sports tiers outside the six conference states. While some of the cable partners are paying for the networks, some like Cox will not offer it currently outside the Pac-12 region.

The networks launch at 6 p.m. PDT Wednesday with a one-hour studio show, followed by a football season preview show, a 30-minute feature on No. 1 pick quarterbacks Andrew Luck, Alex Smith and Drew Bledsoe and a rerun of last year's conference championship football game.

The first live event is a Santa Clara-Stanford women's soccer game on Aug. 17 and there will also be 30-minute preview shows on all 12 football teams before the first football game is played on Aug. 30 between Utah and Northern Colorado.

All 12 schools will play football games on the networks in the first four weeks of the season, with top contenders Southern California, Oregon and Stanford scheduled to be on the air five times during the season.

"We have some blockbuster games on our network," Stevenson said.

Pac-12 Networks will also air hundreds of Olympic sports from a conference whose athletes won 37 medals in the first 13 days of the Olympics and sent 239 competitors to London.

"Take all the athletes that did so well at the Olympics and think of the programming you can do on Olympic sports," Stevenson said. "It's really exciting for us."

The Pac-12 is also relaunching its website next week, renaming it from pac-12.org to pac-12.com. All of the live events will be available there on home computers to users who also get the networks on their television systems, with programming soon to also be available to iPads, iPhones and Android.

"We're really excited about what that will look like," Stevenson said. "It will give our fans a totally different look and feel."

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